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5:41 a.m. - 2005-08-18

MANOS, THE HANDS OF BRILLIANCE


I am a fan of bad movies.

The worse the movie is, the more I like it.

Up until this past week, the movie that set my barometer for really horrifyingly bad movies has been "Showgirls".

God, how I love me some "Showgirls".

Any movie that can have a bunch of topless women running around and manage to make the nudity dull as dirt gets a big "Heck yeah, Wally!" from me.

If you want a really bad movie to watch and laugh hysterically at just how bad it is, watch "Showgirls".

Or ... you could do like I did, plunk down $6.98 and own the world's worst movie ever in the history of moviedom ... Manos, The Hands of Fate.

Don't believe the reviews that say it's not worth $6.

It's worth $600. And change.

A brief synopsis if you will ...

This family is going on vacation and they end up lost and at what is supposed to be the portal to Hell.

There, they meet Torgo who watches the place while the master's away. We know this because he says that line about 30 times when he meets the family. With some long awkward pauses between each line. Rather than editing these pauses out, the camera focuses on the guy as he tries not to pass out and keeps repeating the one line he's managed to master.

From what I've read about the makings of the movie, Torgo was played by this local drug addict in El Paso, Texas in the 60s and it shows. Torgo has trouble standing and walking because he's half-goat or something. It's never really explained why the guy has thighs the size of tree trunks.

So even though Torgo seems to be about the most psychotic bastard they've ever run across, the family decides to spend the night with Torgo anyway because their car won't start.

Then, things get weird.

First, the family dog is mysteriously killed which sends the mother into quite a tizzy. She "wants to get out of there", but her husband keeps protesting that the car's broken down and he can't fix it.

Then, we finally meet the Master who looks like a skeezy perv in a hideously ugly robe with big red hands on it. The Master stares at the camera a lot and when he speaks, it's mostly bad cliches like "Fear the Master!" and "Peanut butter on toast? Mmmm good!"

The Master has several wives who have trouble reaching a decision on which members of the family should live or die. This leads to an all-out catfight between the wives that lasts for about an hour. Some of you guys may think that sounds a bit sexy and may be contemplating ordering the DVD so you can whack it silly while watching women wrestle.

Think again, Chief. It's slightly less erotic than watching your Grandpa get a colonoscopy.

The twist at the end of the flick will have you positively shivering with fear. No lie. I'd tell you what it is, but that's like saying Bruce Willis was dead in "The Sixth Sense" or Noni leaves Las Vegas at the end of "Showgirls". You don't want to give away the twists.

The entire movie is overdubbed by two men and a woman. So every woman's voice is the same and the men's voices only differ slightly as these master thespians behind the mic try different accents to shake the movie up. It sounds confusing, oui? It really isn't.

It's the editing of the film that is the true star here. Camera shots last about 30 seconds longer than they should. Quick three-second long scenes are interspersed throughout the film, adding to the confusion. The initial meeting between the family and Torgo is the best as the family asks him questions and Torgo just stands there shaking and the camera goes back and forth ... family ... Torgo ... family ... Torgo before Torgo answers. Gawd ... it's bad cinema at its best.

The entire film was shot for $19,000 and there's no clue as to where that money went unless they got really ripped off bad on the price of Kodak film.

Everyone you see on screen is not an actor ... they're all friends of the writer/director/star Hal Warren. They're not even amateur actors ... and none of them got paid. Which is highway robbery when you consider Kevin Costner still gets paychecks whenever he does a film.

I ordered my copy bundled with the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version which tries to add laughs to the film. And while it does provide a few chuckles, the original film really doesn't need any enhancement. It stands just fine on its own.

"Manos" is worth every one of the 700 pennies it takes to buy it. I've already watched it three times this past week and am amazed at its badness.

This is a DVD for every collection. Especially when you have friends over and they start talking about bad movies. You can just shush them all with a finger over the lips and say "You wanna see a bad movie?"

Pop this baby in and you win the argument HANDS DOWN.

Trrrrrrrrrrrrrrust me.

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